(Photo courtesy of Jen F)
Lets play where's Waldo. Look closely. How about half way up the hill all by myself on the left :-)
Race started off in downtown Loudonville and was a little chilly but generally just great conditions. There were a few passing thunderstorms the night previous but the course remained in great shape. Off from the line the 400 people hammered to get up the paved climb and fight for a spot going into the singletrack. I put in a solid effort and got up towards the front of the group. We did the first 4-5 miles which crosses the stream and has an immediate hike a bike up behind the campground. It drops out to the bike path on the other side of the campground and then into the Mohican State Park trails for 20+ miles of awesome singletrack. Kept on and flew right through Aid 1.
Aid 1 Road Crossing (Mile 20)
The singletrack kept going and was just amazing to cruise through. It was in great shape and a blast to carve. Once the ST ended it opened up to some gravel roads and some pavement which carried up the long driveway to Aid 2 which I rolled into chatting with some of the fellow racers.
Aid 2 Garage (Mile 34)
Leaving aid 2 I saw my buddy Nate from NYC and rode with him for a bit and got to work together with a few riders to gain some time on the gravel and pavement. It was some grungy doubletrack and gravel climbs but soon gave way to some more singletrack. The ST was superb again and dropping down and flying across the farmers field reminded me that aid #3 was coming up.
Aid 3 Split of 100M/100K(Mile 46)
After aid 3 is a little demoralizing since you climb straight back up the same hillside that was just descended. Once the top is gained it’s back to a few more gravel and road sections that lead out to the dreaded rail bed. The rail bed is about 12 miles of bone flat or false flat uphill that grinds all the way into aid 4. My main focus was to if possible - get in a group and paceline as it makes the pain a little better since the miles fly by. Fortunately it worked out well as I had a group of 4 to work with and get to aid 4 pretty quickly.
Aid 4 Park after small town(Mile 72)
After aid 4 it was back to some country roads and then there were some doubletrack climbs that were not long but enough to make you hurt. They were gradual and tough but rideable. The really eroded dirt climb was steep but good as the legs were there and putting down some decent power. This eventually lead out to the suspension bridge and on to aid #3 again.
Aid 3(Again) Split of 100M/100K(Mile 80)
After aid #3 for the second time I knew there were some gravel killers up ahead and I was going to make them my bitch. They destroyed me last year so I was going to try to hit them as hard as I could to help get to the end. It worked. I cranked up the steepest of the gnarly gravel and just kept a constant pace as I knew the end was coming closer. Winding through a few backroads I finally hit a familiar downhill and I knew I was on the road back towards aid 5 so I put more down and got there as fast as I could.
Aid 5 Under Bridge( Mile 92)
At aid 5 I was told only 6 more miles to go(more like 8). So topped off bottles and cranked to the remaining sweet singletrack which we did before. As I got there I was starting to really feel the miles and one of my local buddies snuck up from behind. Dave was tracking me down and I did all I could to hold him off in the remaining singletrack. We got to the campground and found that it wasn’t a direct finish and there was more hills and pain to be had. I was low on energy so I let Dave go with a half hearted chase. I just wanted to be consistent and save a good finish time. I put a couple efforts in but the hike a bike was a kick in the face. Once through the creek I knew I was done and just put whatever I had left to get in across the line in just under 8.5 hours. Actually it was 8:29:54 to be exact. 34th and WAAAAAY happy with how the race went. My best race to date – PERIOD. It all felt good and I raced very smart – finally. All the hard work is starting to pay off and it only makes me hungrier for more.
Cycling news got a couple of shots of myself and my buddies at the starting line. Check em out: